American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre Presents...
Making Movie History for Over 80 Years!

Click to print Page 1 or Page 2 or Full Text of a Jan./Feb. Calendar!
Seriescompiled by: Dennis Bartok. Additional program notes: Chris D.


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SOLD OUT SCREENINGS: There will be a waiting line for Sold Out screenings. Tickets often become available at the door the night of an event.

Sold out programs will be indicated here if sold out 24 hours in advance of screening date.



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Tickets available 30 days in advance. Tickets are $9 general admission unless noted otherwise.
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The American Cinematheque is a non-profit 501 (C) (3) organization.
The Film Programs of the American Cinematheque are presented at the magnificently renovated, historic 1922 Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. Located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
Photo Credit: Randall Michelson. Detail of Egyptian Theatre Ceiling.

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<<< February 11 - 15, 2005 >>>

Angels & Devils: The Films of Josef Von Sternberg & Marlene Dietrich


This series will also screen at the Aero Theatre thru February 20th.


Pantheon film director Josef Von Sternberg was born in Vienna, Austria in 1894, but divided his childhood between New York and Europe. Bilingual from the start, his first films were silents produced in New York and Hollywood. Having already directed Swiss thespian Emil Jannings in the American THE LAST COMMAND (1928), Von Sternberg was drafted by Jannings and producer Erich Pommer in 1930 to helm Germany’s first sound motion picture, DER BLAUE ENGEL (THE BLUE ANGEL). It was the initial meeting of the imperious filmmaker and actress Marlene Dietrich. Although Dietrich in later years revised her filmography so that THE BLUE ANGEL was her "first movie" – a sign of the movie’s epochal importance to her and screen history – she was in fact already one of German cinema’s rising young stars for her work in films like I KISS YOUR HAND, MADAME. But it’s safe to say that without Von Sternberg, there would have been no "Dietrich" as we know her – and certainly von Sternberg without Dietrich was a far different (and many would argue, lesser) filmmaker.

The collaboration between Von Sternberg and Dietrich remains a one-of-a-kind marriage of Olympian movie gods (an image Von Sternberg would likely approve of!). The seven films they made between 1930 and 1935 are an intoxicating, international hybrid: unmistakenly European in outlook but as baroquely opulent as the most epic of early Hollywood. Von Sternberg, especially in his films with Dietrich, achieves a kind of mysterious splendor, a lushly decadent sensuality mingled with spiritual transcendence, an ambivalence merged with a surprisingly warmhearted compassion -- even love -- for his wonderfully egocentric characters. Here is a world hanging by a thread over the abyss separating paradise and the inferno, a realm populated with incendiary nightclub singers, disgraced soldiers, sultry spies, jilted lovers and jaded royalty. The mix is astonishingly effective, the aura of barely-in-control sexuality shocking for the time. Indeed, Von Sternberg’s mise en scene and potent vision enable his films to transcend the kitschy sensibility that viewers and critics often attribute to them.

Whether it be with Gary Cooper in MOROCCO, with Cary Grant in BLONDE VENUS, with Jannings in THE BLUE ANGEL or on her own in THE SCARLET EMPRESS, the magnificent Marlene glimpsed on screen seems to have been born in rarefied heights. While watching, it is often difficult to remember that she was a human being, made up like the rest of us of flesh and blood. This marvelous illusion is a tribute to von Sternberg’s – and Dietrich’s -- singular contributions to the motion picture medium: a cinema of legendary beauty, erotic mysticism and epic romantic poetry.


Friday, February 11 – 7:00 PM

THE BLUE ANGEL (DER BLAUE ENGEL), 1930, Kino, 106 min. Dir. Josef von Sternberg. Emil Jannings is the repressed professor who falls head-over-heels for bawdy cabaret chanteuse, Lola-Lola (Marlene Dietrich). It’s a liaison which will jumpstart the engine of his self-destruction, immolating both his private and public life till only ashes are left. The classic that scandalized international audiences and started the collaboration between Von Sternberg and Dietrich, setting the tone for the characters and motifs found in their subsequent efforts together. [In German with English subtitles.] Preceded by ultra-rare footage of Marlene Dietrich’s screen test for the role (5 min.). [Also screening 2/18 Aero]


Friday, February 11 – 9:15 PM

Double Feature:

MOROCCO, 1930, Paramount (Universal), 91 min. Dir. Josef von Sternberg. "You’d better go now, I’m beginning to like you," purrs cabaret singer Marlene Dietrich to cocky young soldier boy Gary Cooper. If you’re going to see just one Foreign Legion movie, make it MOROCCO: Dietrich (in her first American film appearance) and Cooper are downright gorgeous, and von Sternberg transforms the two-bit cantinas and barracks of Mogador into a splendid landscape of light & shadow. [Also screening 2/18 Aero]

DISHONORED, 1931, Paramount (Universal), 91 min. Director Josef von Sternberg’s answer to MGM’s MATA HARI with Greta Garbo stars Marlene Dietrich as X27, a seductive agent sent by the Austrian secret service to spy on the Russians. In the process, she goes up against and falls for her opposite number, volcanic Colonel Kranau (Victor McLaglen) and will traverse everything from masked balls to secret headquarters to elaborate military bases in her tireless quest. [Restored Print courtesy of UCLA Film & Television Archives.] [Also screening 2/19 Aero]


Saturday, February 12 – 7:00 PM

Double Feature:

SHANGHAI EXPRESS, 1932, Paramount (Universal), 80 min. Dir. Josef von Sternberg. "It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily." Fallen woman Marlene Dietrich just happens to run into former boyfriend, British army captain Clive Brook, on a train hurtling through wartime China, in what many consider the high point of the Dietrich/von Sternberg cycle. Along for the ride are some of Hollywood’s greatest supporting players of the day: lovely Anna May Wong, bullfrog-voiced Eugene Pallette and Warner Oland (doing a sinister spin on his Far East Charlie Chan persona.)

BLONDE VENUS, 1932, Paramount (Universal), 93 min. Dir. Josef von Sternberg. Marlene Dietrich is Helen, a former nightclub entertainer married to scientist Herbert Marshall. Their idyllic family life is shattered when he becomes disabled, and she must return to the stage to support him and their son (Dickie Moore). Enter millionaire Cary Grant, a man who will lavish any amount of money on what (or who) he wants. Dietrich is luminously hypnotic here, whether swimming nude or singing "Hot Voodoo" in a gorilla suit! One of the best of the von Sternberg/Dietrich collaborations, milking every bit of charisma from its two gorgeous stars and miraculously steering the high voltage melodramatics into poignant revelation by the last frame. [Both films also screening 2/19 Aero]


Sunday, February 13 – 5:00 PM

Double Feature:

THE SCARLET EMPRESS, 1934, Paramount (Universal), 104 min. In this re-imagining of Catherine the Great’s life story, filmmaker Josef von Sternberg and star Marlene Dietrich supply some of the most eye-popping images and outrageously decadent antics in early twentieth century cinema. Dietrich is Princess Sophia from Germany, induced to marry demented Grand Duke Peter (Sam Jaffe), son of the Russian empress. Soon circumstances will transform her from na´ve young girl to power-drunk ruler. Von Sternberg lets his sensibilities run riot here, goading star Dietrich to Wagnerian heights and invoking all the extravagant excesses of court life – from sumptuous revelry to depraved tortures.

THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN, 1935, Paramount (Universal), 79 min. Dir. Josef von Sternberg. Coquettish Spanish vixen Concha (Marlene Dietrich) toys with long-suffering lover "Pasqualito" (Lionel Atwill, in a surprisingly sympathetic role for once) while entertaining the advances of hot-blooded revolutionary Cesar Romero, in what would prove to be the last of the Dietrich/von Sternberg films. Von Sternberg also worked as cinematographer here (with uncredited help from Lucien Ballard), and the images are among the most insanely baroque in the entire cycle. [Both films also screening 2/20 Aero]


Tuesday, February 15 - 7:30 PM

Sternberg Without Marlene -- Double Feature:

THE SHANGHAI GESTURE, 1941, Films Around The World, 98 min. Bored good girl Gene Tierney goes looking for thrills in Shanghai – and winds up in Mother Gin Sling’s gambling palace, a bizarre, alternate reality that could only exist in the mind of director Josef von Sternberg. Look for Victor Mature sipping martinis at the bar as the enigmatic "Doctor Omar" along with Walter Huston, Maria Ouspenskaya and Mike Mazurki. An opium fever dream of a movie. Now if only places like this existed in the real world when you need an after-hours drink … !

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, 1935, Columbia, 88 min. Von Sternberg’s first film after leaving Paramount (and Dietrich) was this expressionistic riot based on the Dostoevsky novel, about student Peter Lorre (in his Hollywood debut) obsessed by a murder he committed, and the police inspector (Edward Arnold) equally obsessed with nailing him. Stunningly photographed by legendary d.p. Lucien Ballard.